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    Rose flower farmers will soon save up to 35 per cent of their produce after a renowned agribusiness firm launches a new pesticide that destroys fungi which attack the produce while in the field and on transit.
    The Banjo fungicide, which will be launched later this month by Amiran Kenya, promise to wipe out Botytis, which destroys 20 per cent of the flowers on the  farms and 15 per cent while on transit.
    Contribution to economy
    This is a huge sigh of relief to the cut flower sector,  which is losing about 35 per cent in revenues to the fungi. The loss is further aggravated during rainy and low precipitation seasons when the fungi are more active according to a 2013 Research Gate study, which explored effects of botrytis in Kenya. The cut flower sector earned Kenya Sh54.6billion in 2014, representing 2.8 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
    Dangerous fungus
    Currently, farmers are forced to employ physical preventive measures including shedding of extra leaves on the crop while on the farm and reducing levels of humidity when transporting the harvest to the market.
    However, experts warn that sanitation alone is not sufficient in controlling it.
    The fungus produces 60,000 or more spores on a piece of plant tissue similar to the size of human small finger nail, with a single spore being able to cause grey mold disease.
    According to Pole Mwadzombo, an Agronomist at Amiran Kenya, it  thrives in cool places like green houses. He explained that botrytis must have nutrients source before it invades a plant. He, for instance said nutrients leaking from wounded plant parts or dying tissue like an old flower petal is sufficient.
    How to use the fungicide
    A litre of Banjo fungicide in 1000 litres of water is enough for 2.5 acres. Mwadzombo explained that the litre of the fungicide against such quantity of water minimise chemical effect on the flowers.
    It can be applied at the interval of three weeks and seven days before harvesting.
    Rose flowers take about 105 days to mature. The fungicide can also be used on other horticultural products like vegetables and fruits, which are affected by botytis.
    Amiran Kenya is still silent on the price, but Irine Limo and Pole Mwadzombo can be contacted on 0735122154 and 0737590146 respectively after the launch.

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    A Nairobi-based international research organisation has successfully developed a vaccine against Rift Valley Fever virus (RVF), which promises to save the lives of up to 90 per cent of  young livestock.
    Researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) say the 'One Health' (ChAdOx1-GnGc) vaccine has shown high efficacy in controlling the spread of the viral disease, which also affects humans. 

    Besides saving the young ones cattle, sheep, goats and camels, the vaccine will also prevent massive abortions in mature animals. The disease has lower mortality rates in mature animals. The institute's vaccine Bioscience programme head Vish Nene said trials have been largely successful after tests on healthy animals.

    “This study demonstrated that a single-dose immunization in several species mediated protection against RVF, with no presence of the virus in the blood. As the institution moves to try One Health vaccine in the fields to confirm its efficiency away from the laboratories, Nene said, local and global regulatory authorities will need to address registration requirements for recombinant vaccines. 

    A recombinant vaccine is developed by introduction of a DNA encoding into health cells to trigger immune response. A single dose of  immunisation elicits a high-titre neutralising antibody, providing solid protection against FVF virus,” Nene said. 

    The virus, which is largely found in Africa, is spread by bites of more than 10 mosquito species. Survivors of the disease sometimes suffer permanent scars like imperiled vision. in case of an outbreak, the spread of the virus is more prominent during  rains because of more of the mosquitoes.

    According to the World Health Organinsation, one vaccine has been developed for human use, although it is neither licensed nor commercially available. Field tests, licensing and commercialisation of the vaccine could save the more than 20 million livestock in the country, which are supporting lives of many small and large scale-farmers. Kenya has been using available vaccines, but controlling the virus has remained a challenge since it was reported in Kenya in 1931.

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